Over-all fitness improvement can only be achieved by making a compromise between ALL of the physical abilities needed for fitness excellence... and using cross training to improve those abilities.
If you are a fitness enthusiast interested in improving health and over-all physical abilities which will enable you to meet the challenges of sport, work and life with excellence... you should be cross training!
Cross training is a form of training that uses more than one method to achieve the desired physical goals.
For example, a runner might also train on the stationary bike with the hopes of improving their running performance.
The debate continues as to whether this type of cross training is truly beneficial for elite athlete performance improvement.
But what about when we look at the training methods of the fitness enthusiast?... someone that physically trains for health and over-all fitness improvement.
In my opinion... Fitness enthusiasts should be cross training if they want to optimize strength, conditioning and fitness.
One physical training method cannot provide enough varied stimulus to improve all the physical abilities needed for fitness excellence... this can only be accomplished by using cross training between various physical training methods, stresses and intensities.
The #1 Reason Fitness Enthusiasts Should Be Cross Training?
Fitness is the degree of competence in the ability to perform in all the areas of cardiorespiratory endurance, strength, power, speed, flexibility, balance, coordination, agility, accuracy and toughness... not the ability to perform one physical ability well.
That's right... fitness is a compromise between various physical abilities!
It would then stand to reason that a physical fitness program should be designed to "optimize" the competence of all the physical abilities and their interaction with one another... and not "maximize" only one physical skill.
This can only be done through cross training.
Let me give you an example of what I mean...
Suppose you are limiting your training to the combination of resistance training in the form of exercise machines and aerobic exercise in the form of riding the exercises bike.
Since physical training is specific... you are effectively training your body's ability to perform machine resistance exercises and ride a stationary bike.
Your body will make the necessary changes to allow you to perform those activities more efficiently in the future.
However, since true fitness is the compromise of physical abilities and the seamless transition from one physical ability to another... your physical training time would be better served by using cross training between a wider variety of training methods, stresses and intensities.
Cross training allows you to use many different training methods, stresses and intensities to create an environment for you body to improve over a wide spectrum of physical abilities... and not just one method, stress or intensity producing specialized fitness.
Cross training can keep you from overtraining one aspect of fitness... at the expense of all the others.
Cross training is fun... meaning you will be more likely to keep you physical fitness training program on track for the long haul.
Cross training can help you make physical activity a part of your lifestyle... the surest way to long term health.
In short, cross training can develop a body that is fit to do many activities well under the greatest amount of circumstances... allowing you to meet the random challenges of sport, work and life with excellence.
Most commercial fitness programs are a limited form of cross training... combining resistance training in the form of machines and cardiovascular training in the form of aerobic activity.
Unfortunately, this cross training combination alone is not enough to train all the physical abilities needed for fitness excellence.
Only through cross training with a large variety of physical training methods, stresses and intensities can the fitness enthusiast reach their true physical potential.
Cross training is the best way to optimize physical performance for the fitness enthusiast!
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Eddie Lomax is a strength, conditioning and fitness coach and founder of Optimum Physical Training. We recommend his book Unchained Bodyweight Workout.
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